I anticipate that my mobilization orders will arrive shortly. My date to go on active duty is not too far away. It was announced this week that the Pentagon has abandoned the 24 month limit on cumulative service for Reservists and Guardsmen. I already served for 21 months during my two mobilizations in 2003 and 2004. This time limit will no longer be an issue for others returning to active duty, either voluntarily or involuntarily.
Arab governments throughout the Middle East are becoming increasingly concerned about the direction of the war in Iraq. Remembering that most Arabs are Sunni, these other countries are not happy with the sectarian violence in Iraq where Shiites have been taking their revenge on the Sunni minority of the late Saddam Hussein. Saudi Arabia has even threatened to take matters into their own hands should America pull out of Iraq.
Since we first arrived in Iraq, we have been fighting the Sunni insurgents. The question at this point will be how to deal with the Shiite-led militias like the Mahdi Army. Muqtada al Sadr has become a powerful figure and his militia now numbers in the tens of thousands. Fighting this Iranian-influenced and funded militia will be a daunting task, but our forces can do it – if we are permitted to do so by the Iraqi government.
There were two uprisings of the Mahdi Army in Iraq in 2004. This was when Al Sadr’s forces only numbered a couple of thousand or so. We were on the receiving end of many of his rockets and mortars back then and my fellow soldiers fought the black-uniformed militia in Sadr City, Najaf and other places.
Americans have tired of hearing about Iraq. They are weary of the political battles and the issues relating to tactics, strategy, sectarian violence and all of the other problems in that war, but so are the warriors fighting the battles.
Americans must not forget that the politics of the war have nothing to do with the service of our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines. Continue to honor their service, their sacrifice and their dedication to each and every one of you.
Your warriors want to finish the job and come home to you, but they want to come home as victors. They won’t be satisfied to simply give up, back out of Iraq and spend the rest of their lives regretting that their comrades died for a politically-abandoned cause.
That’s what happened to us in Vietnam. It will be a tragedy to do it again to another generation of young Americans.
When it comes to war, warriors will tell you: “Send us to win or don’t send us.”
SFC Chuck Grist